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  1. #1
    Living Large
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    clyde and !@#$ cheap wheels

    I have about 500 miles on my Specialized Roubaix Elite and its Alex ALX 298R wheels. I can't really be much happier with the bike, or much less happy with the wheels. I've already had to get the rear wheel trued twice. A friend took pity on me and loaned me his 10 year old bomber wheels (36-hole mavic OP with whatever shimano called their ultegra-esque hubs of the day). I did a bit of comparison. The Alex hubs have a aluminum cassette body (I believe that's what the spline is called where the cassette mounts). It's being eaten by the cassette already. The cassette digs in to the aluminum enough that it can be hard to remove. The shimano is of course stainless or something and fairly bullet proof. I noticed the hub on my rear wheel also seems fairly gritty when I spin it with my fingers. The 10 year old bombers are still great. The bombers are of course heavier.

    I took the bomber in to have it trued so I could use it as a training wheel and mentioned the gritty Alex hub. They ended up keeping my Alex wheel to address under warranty. It was almost a given that the stock wheels wouldn't hold up to being ridden by a clyde. They don't.

    I'm considering Easton/Velomax Orion II or Circuit II wheels. They are expensive, but I've heard a lot of really good things about them. Opinions?

    In the mean time I'll be riding the bomber wheel at least on the rear. I don't care about a little weight if it means I get to just ride without being on eggshells.

    -Adam

  2. #2
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    Could just be a matter of proper assembly, spoke tension etc. I weigh about 230 now, but I've been as high as 270, and even at that weight I didn't have much trouble with cheap wheels as long as they had 36 spokes and were tensioned right. I bought one set from Nashbar for my rain bike for something like $119, mounted 37mm tires, and they've stayed true for seven or eight months. Can't remember the specifics, and the bike's at work now so I can't go check, but they're about as low-end as wheels can get and still roll.
    I've never mastered wheel-building, but truing isn't that hard to do, or a shop will do it (at least around here) for a few dollars.
    FWIW, I've never had any success at all with low spoke-count wheels. Thirty-two is iffy, and I don't even think about going below that.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Dog
    Could just be a matter of proper assembly, spoke tension etc. I weigh about 230 now, but I've been as high as 270, and even at that weight I didn't have much trouble with cheap wheels as long as they had 36 spokes and were tensioned right. I bought one set from Nashbar for my rain bike for something like $119, mounted 37mm tires, and they've stayed true for seven or eight months. Can't remember the specifics, and the bike's at work now so I can't go check, but they're about as low-end as wheels can get and still roll.
    I've never mastered wheel-building, but truing isn't that hard to do, or a shop will do it (at least around here) for a few dollars.
    FWIW, I've never had any success at all with low spoke-count wheels. Thirty-two is iffy, and I don't even think about going below that.
    Yes, I should have elaborated a bit. The ALX 298Rs are also 20 front and 24 rear. I expressed a desire to get something else on the bike, but the shop was suuuuuuure I'd be fine. I figured I'd end up proving them wrong. Just didn't want it to be so soon. I've heard a lot of good things about Easton Velomax Orion II and Circuit II wheels, which are 24 front and 28 rear. The thing is I expected the wheel to go out of true. I'm really disappointed in the bearing/hub issue though. On a bike of this caliber I would have liked to see a wheel that I could at least ride for a while before replacing.

    I put 38 miles on the 10 year old 36 spoke triple cross wheel today. No matter what you're going to hit bumps, and at least this wheel is still fine at the end of the day.

    -Adam

  4. #4
    Geezer Member Grampy™'s Avatar
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    I've got a ton of miles on my Velomax circuits. No problems what so ever. You might also take a look at Velocity Sparticus wheels. WAY tougher than they look. I've got thousands of miles on a set and they have never needed any truing/repair of any kind. I started at 250# and am currently 210-215.
    Carpe who?

  5. #5
    Living Large
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampy™
    I've got a ton of miles on my Velomax circuits. No problems what so ever. You might also take a look at Velocity Sparticus wheels. WAY tougher than they look. I've got thousands of miles on a set and they have never needed any truing/repair of any kind. I started at 250# and am currently 210-215.
    Sweet. I won an auction on ebay for a set of Orion IIs. Those should be at least as strong as the Circuits. I think I'll like them a lot.
    2006 Specialized Roubaix Elite
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  6. #6
    Junior Member brycer's Avatar
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    Hope they go well - I just replaced the crapola Bontrager Selects on my Trek 1400 with Mavic Cosmos after I spotted that just about every drive side spoke had cracks radiating from them Had thought all the creaking was the BB.

    Moral of the story stay away from cheap "low spoke count" wheel sets. Impossible to true, easy to bend and marginally lighter than a decent wheel set.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ray Dockrey's Avatar
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    My rear Alex wheel that came on my 2005 Allez Sport lasted 500 miles. I have about 800 miles on a set of Mavic Aksiums and they have been awesome. They are heavier compared to some wheels but they have been bomb proof. I do a lot of riding at night so sometimes I miss a pothole but they have stayed true.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Hambone's Avatar
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    I've got 2,000 miles on Mavic Open Pros with Ultegra hubs (and they are still spot on.)

    I started over 300# and I'm now about 270.

    I ride in NYC so a lot of crappy road surface including cobblestones and a section of cement with one foot wide expansions joints with brick every 15 yards or so.
    Inside me is a thin man dying to get out.
    (He is kept comfortable by some pie, a half case of Bud, two cheese-dogs and a big screen Sony.)

  9. #9
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hambone
    I've got 2,000 miles on Mavic Open Pros with Ultegra hubs (and they are still spot on.)

    I started over 300# and I'm now about 270.

    I ride in NYC so a lot of crappy road surface including cobblestones and a section of cement with one foot wide expansions joints with brick every 15 yards or so.
    I replaced my ALEX wheels on the Roubaix also. Used Mavic OP with Ultegra hubs. They've now been carrying around my 220+ weight for 4000 miles with no further adjustment or repairs. Luv 'em.
    Just Peddlin' Around

  10. #10
    Senior Member Dubbayoo's Avatar
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    The Orion II's sound appealing but still more expensive than a set of Mike Garcia Niobiums.

  11. #11
    Senior Member john bono's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Dog
    Could just be a matter of proper assembly, spoke tension etc. I weigh about 230 now, but I've been as high as 270, and even at that weight I didn't have much trouble with cheap wheels as long as they had 36 spokes and were tensioned right. I bought one set from Nashbar for my rain bike for something like $119, mounted 37mm tires, and they've stayed true for seven or eight months. Can't remember the specifics, and the bike's at work now so I can't go check, but they're about as low-end as wheels can get and still roll.
    I've never mastered wheel-building, but truing isn't that hard to do, or a shop will do it (at least around here) for a few dollars.
    FWIW, I've never had any success at all with low spoke-count wheels. Thirty-two is iffy, and I don't even think about going below that.
    Nah. Alex wheels are cr*p. I had a pair of alex 400s on my sequoia, and they started busting spokes like mad at 800 miles. I've switched over to velocity deep Vs which are much, much better.
    Ride a bike. It makes your legs stringy, and less tasty to our Kanamit friends.[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  12. #12
    Gorntastic! v1k1ng1001's Avatar
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    Hey let us know how this turns out.

    I just bought a Lemond that has set of Bontrager race wheels. My guess is these things won't last through next season since I weigh in at 225 and ride like a moose.

    I have an old set of Ultegra/Mavic CXP 30s that were handbuilt by an Olympic Certified Mechanic. Rode them for eight years and I only had to true them once and that was after a bad crash. Handbuilt wheels with a higher spoke count are the way to go.

  13. #13
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    I have a pair of Alx-300's on my Fuji. I'm lucky to get 2 rides out of them before they go out of true. The wheels just suck ... I am constantly looking down during a ride to check the true. At least twice I've had to a brake pad true job in the middle of the ride. They've probably got less than 500 miles on them, and I can't wait to get rid of them.

  14. #14
    Living Large
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    Here's an update: The shop called me back on the warranty issue with my rear wheel. Specialized is going to replace my entire rear wheel. They are sending an "upgraded" wheel since the ALX 298R is from last year's speciliazed models. They said they would send one that would "match" since my wheel is all black. That means they won't be sending the Mavic Open Sport that comes on this years bike. Not really sure what I'm getting, but also don't care too much since I'm unlikely to ever actually put it on the bike.

    -Adam
    2006 Specialized Roubaix Elite
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  15. #15
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Don't know what shop you're dealing with, but I notice you're in Livermore.

    I brought in a set of 36H Campy hubs to Livermore Cyclery, and Brad built me up a dandy set of wheels for $200 parts and labor.

    Can't say enough good things about the shop.

    I'm a Clyde at 230lbs, and last year I bought a Giant with 20/24 Xero-3's. They were flexy and heavy. I had a custom set built by Mike Garcia in 24/28 drillings, and they are da bomb. Stiff, light, and very smooth. 4000 miles on them so far and smooth as silk with nary a ripple. $429 delivered. Can't say enough good things about Mike, either.
    Last edited by bigbossman; 11-08-06 at 06:17 PM.
    "Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, it’s the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

    S. J. Perelman

  16. #16
    Living Large
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbossman
    Don't know what shop you're dealing with, but I notice you're in Livermore.

    I brought in a set of 36H Campy hubs to Livermore Cyclery, and Brad built me up a dandy set of wheels for $200 parts and labor.

    Can't say enough good things about the shop.

    I'm a Clyde at 230lbs, and last year I bought a Giant with 20/24 Xero-3's. They were flexy and heavy. I had a custom set built by Mike Garcia in 24/28 drillings, and they are da bomb. Stiff, light, and very smooth. 4000 miles on them so far and smooth as silk with nary a ripple. $429 delivered. Can't say enough good things about Mike, either.
    I have generally good things to say about Livermore Cyclery. That's where I got my bike and pretty much the only local shop I've used so far. The only thing I'm not terribly happy about is that I repeatedly brought up my concerns about wheels and they really didn't want to work with me, insisting that I'd be fine on the wheels that came on the bike. They said if I wanted to build up a set of wheels they'd be happy to take my money, but didn't want to work with me on an exchange and really didn't think there was any reason for me to go with anything but stock wheels.

    They also didn't want to let me take an extended test ride (couldn't leave the parking lot).

    They did spend a lot of time setting up the fit of the bike. They special ordered a stem and swapped it out for free. They discounted the 2006 model bike a little early for me at my suggestion, which was great for both the shop and me. They got to sell last year's bike and I got a good deal. Except for the wheel business I've been a happy customer, and I've come back many times and spent quite a bit of additional cash there. It's nice to have a totally decent local bike shop I can go to.
    2006 Specialized Roubaix Elite
    199? Specialized Hard Rock GX

  17. #17
    Clydesdale
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    My Alex rims suck ass too. I have popped spokes several times. Not cool.
    -DavisClydesdale
    -2006 Cervelo Soloist Team
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  18. #18
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    I have the OP/Ultegra with 15/16 spokes(28f,32r), was 205lb, now 196.
    Initially I thought it may have been risky to go with 15/16 instead of 14/15 spokes but they have held up well.
    I ride on bad roads and they have stayed perfectly true.
    They are reasonably light and for the price you can't go wrong.

  19. #19
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    I have a set of Bontrager race wheels that came on the bike 1500 miles ago. Poped one rear spoke when it had 300 miles on it but perfect otherwise. My weight was 220, now 230.

  20. #20
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abertsch
    They also didn't want to let me take an extended test ride (couldn't leave the parking lot).
    Wow - I'm surprised. When I test-rode bikes there in late 2005, I rode 4 different ones, one after the other, out to Walmart by the freeway and back. I didn't buy one, though, as they would not budge on price. I did, however, bring my wife there for Christmas, and the manager spent 3 hours fitting her. She also tested 4 bikes for about 20-30 minutes each, and made her selection.

    I did have a similar experience with trying to get them to build me a custom wheel-set. Like I mentioned earlier, Brad built be a primo set for my vintage bike on my supplied Campy hubs. A year later, I walked in to inquire about them building me a custom set, and the youngster that I talked to just kept trying to sell me an off the shelf set. I didn't push the issue - I just went to Mike Garcia on-line and he built me a set that was more than satisfying.

    It seems that it really depends on who you deal with there, but Brad (service manager) and the owner (Steve?) have been good to me.

    The Dublin store is hit-or-miss, though......
    Last edited by bigbossman; 11-09-06 at 11:30 PM.
    "Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, it’s the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

    S. J. Perelman

  21. #21
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    I guess there's something to be said for running old school 32 spoke late 80's Araya stock 27" rims! Cpl thousand miles and not a mm out of true with my lard riding the bike over various road conditions.

    By the way, on the old MTB/commuter, I'm running Alex 6606T6 wheels and they have held up well also! This bike has been to Hades and back......single tracking when I was weighing in at over 400 pounds! Still true and no popped spokes! This included riding with a full touring load, as well of 37 pounds of gear on the bike this spring (Not single track, but road!).
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

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  22. #22
    Clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by abertsch
    They also didn't want to let me take an extended test ride (couldn't leave the parking lot).
    Hmmm. For me this would be a deal breaker. I test rode three bikes last week, and all three I took for 8-10 miles each. I feel that in order to get a good feel for the bike, you need to try it out in ways that you cannot do inside of a parking lot. You need to get out and go as fast as you can for a bit. You need to cruise for a bit. You need to stand for a bit. You need to sit for a bit. You need to corner at different speeds. You need to try some minor hills if available. Basically, you need to ride it in a manner that you will be riding it after purchase, and you need to try out every aspect. You need to ride it enough so you get over the initial feeling of riding something different and see if you really like it. I don't think they can expect you to make a determination if you couldn't leave the parking lot. Would you buy a caqr from a dealer that wouldn't let you drive off the lot for a test drive?
    -DavisClydesdale
    -2006 Cervelo Soloist Team
    -2002 Bianchi Bergamo

  23. #23
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavisClydesdale
    Hmmm. For me this would be a deal breaker.....

    Yeah - might as well buy on-line.....
    "Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, it’s the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

    S. J. Perelman

  24. #24
    59'er Mariner Fan's Avatar
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    Open Pro's are a really great. I have these with 105 hubs and they are very strong and light.

  25. #25
    Living Large
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    So here's an update: Got my Orion IIs from ebay and installed tonight. I'll give a ride/durability report after several rides. They are definitely light, sharp looking, and the spokes on the rear wheel pluck pretty much perfectly for pitch. One spoke on the front wheel has slightly less tension than the others, but it's still awfully close. Front wheel perfectly true, rear wheel more than close enough for government work. Still waiting on the warranty ALEX wheel from Specialized. Maybe I'll remember to call the shop and see how it's going tomorrow.

    -Adam
    2006 Specialized Roubaix Elite
    199? Specialized Hard Rock GX

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